Providing Safe Water to Rural Nepal: A Novel Water Filtration System

EPA Grant Number: SU833180
Title: Providing Safe Water to Rural Nepal: A Novel Water Filtration System
Investigators: Kilduff, James E. , Komisar, Simeon
Current Investigators: Kilduff, James E. , Arrighi, Julie , Carley, Victoria , Deede, Ben , Desai, Hemal , Gerbini, Alessandro , Gupta, Swati , Jovic, Srdjan , Komisar, Simeon , Lennox, Erin , Martin, Heather , Raju, Reenu , Sawicz, Keith
Institution: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2006 through May 30, 2007
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Water , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The quality of Nepalese water sources is often compromised by pathogen contamination resulting from inadequate wastewater management, and arsenic contamination from natural and anthropogenic sources. The primary source of Nepal’s arsenic problem is suspected to arise from natural sources in the Himalayas. In addition, heavy metals such as mercury have been found at elevated levels in wells located in the Kathmandu valley. The proposed project will address the causes, extent, and control of water pollution to provide safe potable water to village dwellers in rural Nepal. We propose to develop a novel water treatment system to improve water quality, water availability, and access to safe water. The proposed system will employ both traditional (sand) and innovative filter materials, including iron impregnated charcoals, to provide broad-spectrum pollution control (pathogens, organics, and arsenic), to levels in accordance with EPA and WHO standards, using appropriate, energy efficient technology. The system will emphasize ease of operation and maintenance and low cost by using lightweight charcoal material and a novel modular design that will be easy to clean. We will evaluate the feasibility of using native materials to produce iron-impregnated charcoal. We expect that the proposed system will be more appropriate for community water supplies than other traditional appropriate and sustainable technologies such as slow sand (biologically active) filters because treatment quality will be more consistent and throughput rates will be higher. By decreasing the risk of drinking water contamination, the proposed system will improve human health and advance the goals of economic competitiveness. Process performance will be evaluated by measuring arsenic, temperature, UV absorption, conductivity, organic carbon, mercury, pH, alkalinity, and turbidity. P3 concepts, including knowledge and appreciation of Nepalese culture, will be integrated as an educational tool through the Undergraduate Research Program at Rensselaer. Students will become proficient at various water quality analyses, concepts of water treatment design, and research methods.

Supplemental Keywords:

adsorption, drinking water, groundwater, human health, toxics, metals, sustainable development, treatment, environmental chemistry, engineering, Southeast Asia,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Water, TREATMENT/CONTROL, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, Sustainable Industry/Business, Sustainable Environment, Chemicals, Technology, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Drinking Water, International, Environmental Engineering, sustainable development, clean technologies, well water, filtration, pathogen removal, Nepal, charcoal filtration, arsenic removal, drinking water monitoring, water quality, drinking water contaminants, pollution prevention, water treatment, drinking water treatment, arsenic

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report